It’s true. There’s a lot of food — and drink — available on the average cruise ship.
But even the cruise lines have lightened up a bit. Gone are the midnight buffets, although there are definitely ways to get food around the clock. Gone are the late night chocolate extravaganzas that were as much a feature of cruises as the welcome aboard champagne towers.
Healthy has come to cruising
Sit down breakfasts in the dining room are as apt to include healthy oatmeal and fresh fruit as Eggs Benedict, corned beef hash and fried potatoes; smoked whitefish and soft boiled eggs in addition to bagels, lox and cream cheese. However, the uniformed waiters still circulate with trays of croissants and pastries, and we hope that never changes!
Ever-present buffets are heavily laden with salads, fish and fruit, including Scandinavian and Mediterranean specialties, in addition to hot entrees. It’s still hard to be sensible with buffet selections, but not as difficult! There are many more choices that reflect the cultural identify of scheduled ports. A relatively new alliance between Australian Chef Curtis Stone and Princess Cruises has led to revamped menu offerings on the line’s 18 ships, as well as a new-concept dining venue called “Share,” soon to be available on most of them.
Lighter, but as pretty as ever
It’s an interesting, welcome and delicious departure. Food on cruise ships has always been something to write home about — mostly, in days gone by, for its calorie-rich decadence as much as for the quality and the abundance. Today, the food is different.
It’s beautiful to look at, thoughtfully prepared and presented, regionally appropriate — and it’s lighter, fresher and healthier. An extensive array of vegetarian offerings reflects a changing culture and the global trend toward health consciousness and fitness.
Desserts are often fresh fruit, lighter sorbets, cheese trays and sugar-free cakes. But the Baked Alaska parade by waiters is still a feature! And, although the variety, preparation and presentation are still worth celebrating, food service as practiced by the cruise lines has achieved something much more notable.
It is entirely possible to return from an extended cruise vacation not a single pound heavier, and at least as healthy as when you stepped aboard, with no hint of deprivation.
A newly enriching travel experience
Food is a part of the experience and, in the words of Chef Stone: “When good food and travel brings people closer together, you experience the world in a whole new way.”
On a recent Eastern Caribbean sailing with Princess Cruise Lines, our party was delighted by the variety of dishes, the range of flavors, and the visual appeal of every plate brought to our table. We were equally entranced with the buffets — Danish smorgasbord for breakfast; shrimp salad and fresh fruit for lunch. Lighter custards, along with tempting fresh-baked cookies, for an afternoon pick-me-up.
The food on board was so good, in fact, that I sought out some Curtis Stone recipes upon returning home. You can try some too, if you’d like!